Disorders or differences in sex development (DSD) comprise a heterogeneous group of conditions with an atypical sex development. For optimal diagnosis, highly specialised laboratory analyses are required across European countries. Working group 3 of EU COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action BM 1303 ‘DSDnet’ ‘Harmonisation of Laboratory Assessment’ has developed recommendations on laboratory assessment for DSD regarding the use of technologies and analytes to be investigated. This position paper on steroid hormone analysis in diagnosis and treatment of DSD was compiled by a group of specialists in DSD and/or hormonal analysis, either from participating European countries or international partner countries. The topics discussed comprised analytical methods (immunoassay/mass spectrometry-based methods), matrices (urine/serum/saliva) and harmonisation of laboratory tests. The following positions were agreed upon: support of the appropriate use of immunoassay- and mass spectrometry-based methods for diagnosis and monitoring of DSD. Serum/plasma and urine are established matrices for analysis. Laboratories performing analyses for DSD need to operate within a quality framework and actively engage in harmonisation processes so that results and their interpretation are the same irrespective of the laboratory they are performed in. Participation in activities of peer comparison such as sample exchange or when available subscribing to a relevant external quality assurance program should be achieved. The ultimate aim of the guidelines is the implementation of clinical standards for diagnosis and appropriate treatment of DSD to achieve the best outcome for patients, no matter where patients are investigated or managed.
A Kulle, N Krone, P M Holterhus, G Schuler, R F Greaves, A Juul, Y B de Rijke, M F Hartmann, A Saba, O Hiort, S A Wudy and on behalf of the EU COST Action
L Audí, S F Ahmed, N Krone, M Cools, K McElreavey, P M Holterhus, A Greenfield, A Bashamboo, O Hiort, S A Wudy, R McGowan and the EU COST Action
The differential diagnosis of differences or disorders of sex development (DSD) belongs to the most complex fields in medicine. It requires a multidisciplinary team conducting a synoptic and complementary approach consisting of thorough clinical, hormonal and genetic workups. This position paper of EU COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action BM1303 ‘DSDnet’ was written by leading experts in the field and focuses on current best practice in genetic diagnosis in DSD patients. Ascertainment of the karyotpye defines one of the three major diagnostic DSD subclasses and is therefore the mandatory initial step. Subsequently, further analyses comprise molecular studies of monogenic DSD causes or analysis of copy number variations (CNV) or both. Panels of candidate genes provide rapid and reliable results. Whole exome and genome sequencing (WES and WGS) represent valuable methodological developments that are currently in the transition from basic science to clinical routine service in the field of DSD. However, in addition to covering known DSD candidate genes, WES and WGS help to identify novel genetic causes for DSD. Diagnostic interpretation must be performed with utmost caution and needs careful scientific validation in each DSD case.